tv [untitled] December 4, 2011 7:00pm-7:30pm PST
running. we did not win, but we did run one of the largest grass-roots campaigns in the city. we drop in over 300 precincts, and we had a very strong showing. two years later, a friend of mine who was an active parent organizer, an african-american, wanted to run for the school board as well, and i remember when she also decided to declare the year that i did that a lot of people came up to us and said, "there is no way that both of you will win. there's no way that two women of color are progressive and from the community will win two of the three seats on the school board." as the summer when on and we started going after endorsements, we actually found that that was kind of true. every time she would get an endorsement, i would not get an endorsement from that group, and every time i got an endorsement, she would not get one. all the advice that people have been telling us we're starting to play out, and it was
interesting because i could feel the tension between us during that campaign. we knew that in some ways we were competing for the one spot for the woman of color to get on the school board. you know, you could tell that through september, when the campaign started, that was cited kind of not doing as much collaborative work together. at some point in october, for whatever reason, it dawned on us that it would not matter if only one of us one appeared with only have an impact on the board of education if we gain two more seats that year. so despite everything that people were saying to us, we decided to continue the campaign together and divide up our volunteers throughout the city. that night, something happened that does not always happen that is not always the outcome of coalition building, but we both won. it was considered one of the biggest surprises -- [applause] thank you. it was considered one of the big surprises of the election. my predecessor, chris daly, said
that we were the biggest surprise next to ed jew who also won that year. probably only funny to 10 people here. [laughter] we really thought that only one of us was going to come -- was going to win and one of us would come in third place here that year, three women of color one, but we were able to make an impact in terms of the votes we were able to take for the next two years and it allowed us to do a lot of policies about restorative justice that we were trying to bring in instead of suspensions and expulsions and other policies that we had cared about. coalition building has become very interesting for me now on the board of supervisors because i ran really to serve and improve the lives of low- income communities. i represent a very diverse district. i represent some of the wealthiest homeowners in the city. i also represent the forest residents of san francisco. we have the highest level of
low-income constituents. median income for households is far less than the rest of the city in district 6. we have a lot of the new condo developments that you will see a around at&t ballpark, and we still have a lot of the single room occupancy hotels that many of our immigrant families and formerly homeless and other folks eventually move into in the tenderloin and north mission and western south of market. so for me, i think a lot about what coalition building means in terms of pushing policies that make sense for people with very different interests. something that surprised me when i was running for board of supervisors was that everyone told me i would need five different platforms for all the different neighborhoods in district 6, an additional -- initially was that a developing different platforms. what i learned through door- knocking is that people actually wanted the same things.
they wanted safe and clean streets. they wanted good schools. they wanted good jobs. and actually, everyone wanted affordable housing. it was not a concept people were against, as long as it did not ignore them. despite the fact that one of my campaign managers called it whiplashed -- one hour we would be at a food kitchen line handing out literature, and the next hour, we would be, you know, at a coffee line trying to get votes, so it was always talking to very different types of folks come of the people that really actually wanted the same things. i found that there were several issues that threaded people together. one was constituent services. although we have up and coming neighborhoods that are more well-to-do and highly educated, they felt fairly ignored by the city government because they were a new neighborhood. in the tenderloin and other areas, people felt ignored even though they had been historically part of the city for a very long time for a different set of reasons --
because they were immigrants, because they were formerly homeless, because there were not as educated, because they did not have as much money, they did not have a voice in the process. we found a level of uniformity of people feeling ignored by the government. two, we saw issues that impact everyone. at least that is an initial platform for our office to work on. one was pedestrian safety. we have the highest rate of pedestrian vehicle collisions in the entire city and it costs us a tremendous amount of money. whether you live in south beach or you live in the tenderloin, your likelihood of getting hit by a car is much higher than anywhere in the state of california and also anywhere in the city. we have higher rates of collision and shanghai, tokyo, new york city, and hong kong as well. working on issues like that had been interesting for us because when we hold our monthly pedestrian safety meeting, we have leaders from sro hotels and condo owners come and set the table to talk about how we could make our streets safer appeared
going back to community building, working on issues that i think some people would call like issues, but actually have a serious impact, which is fatalities and serious injuries. as we talk about moving forward on policies that support giving more money to schools, or towards local hire or creating a municipal bank, how do you broaden the base of people interested in those issues? that is a question i think we think about all the time in our office. as much as we are up to fight for issues, we also want broad- based support for the issues we are moving forward with pirie whether those allies are in small businesses or also moderate, middle-class families that may not feel the same pitch that some of our lower income residents do but feel the pinch of our economic hard times, how do we build those bridges is a question we engage on in every single issue. the third lesson that i have learned over time is the
importance of knowing your true north. i say this because i once heard one of our asian-american leaders talk to a group of very young students about the importance of knowing your true north, and i agree that it is really important, but what i think what has been most important for me, especially being in politics when everything goes from black and white to very great, is having friends that share my principles. i think that has been probably one of the most important things during my time in office, having friends that i know share the same principles that i do that are willing to hold me accountable to them. it is something i tell young people all the time that go into this type of work. it is very difficult, and we have to support one another enduring a period i think we often view activists and nonprofit workers as martyrs and we often view ourselves as martyrs in this community.
there's no way we will be able to sustain that in the long term if we do not have people that would love to work with and have fun working on to do this work of improving our community. i know i want to still be doing this when i am 60 or 70. part of that has been also creating a community around me that i love and that loves me back and supports me to be able to do this for the long term. i think i will leave it at and perhaps open up to questions. i know i did not talk as much about district 6 and the communities that i represent, but i really would love to address, you know, what folks would like to hear about. [applause] thank you. >> we have a couple of microphones that are floating around.
if you could just raise your hands, i could direct our microphones to your table. all right, we have tosh a first. >> will survey with the cleveland foundation. i am interested in your conversation about coalition building. we are trying to join low-income residents with some of the anchors that our institutions have here we are trying to build a coalition between low- income folks and people who are some of the wealthiest people in terms of the cleveland foundation. that is kind of our challenge. can you speak to that a little bit about building coalitions across income inequality. supervisor kim: i wish i had the answers to that because i was that was -- i think that is a question we think about every day. we try to find issues that affect a broad base of
constituents regardless of income, so pedestrian safety was one of the issues that i have brought up earlier and really try to build relationships among school spirit the one thing i think we all know is that once people know each other there is a very different response that people have, so if you do not know your neighbors, then you are angry when they make noise or if they are sleeping on, you know, the curve in front of your doorstep, but once the relationship gets built, it is a very different response i usually feel that people have. i do think it is challenging, and i think that's low income residents do need to think a lot about who they can build relationships and partnerships with. i brought up small businesses earlier because i think they often face a lot of the same struggles that we experience in low-income or middle-class communities, but they experience the same struggles in terms of a
lot of the obstacles, whether it is planning or department of building inspection, department of public works -- many public hurdles that they have to cross, and they are not making as much money as they could be. we are not doing a whole lot to help them, so what can we do to kind of support that. we are currently looking at policies on how to build more affordable housing in district 6. and actually even putting in, i guess, led use controls of affordable housing in the south of market. and how do you do that? that will create that initial gut reaction response of why are you stopping private development? why are you constricting public development? what we have been finding, though, is that everyone is really struggling right now. i think you see that with the popularity of the occupy movements happening across the country. a lot of people are frustrated with the economy, so i think we
have an opening there in terms of appealing to folks. i do think that when we talk about affordable housing, we have to expand the definition of affordable housing. in san francisco, for example, we actually meet 80% of very low income housing needs in the city. still not perfect, but 80%. for market rate, we actually address 120% of their needs. i am sorry, 100 percent -- 160%. then you have middle-class housing, and will be addressing anywhere from 12% to 40% of that need, so i think there is a real opportunity there. people feel the crunch with rent and the cost of housing to build coalitions. the other thing that i think is really important -- again, i am speaking very much from a government perspective -- is how you get people to appreciate paying taxes? [applause]
i love what coleman did two years ago. on tax day last year -- this is one of the organizations -- they actually went out to one of the post offices on april 15 and had thank you signs for people coming in to mail their taxes, saying thank you for paying for our parks and schools and streets and all of that. i think that is a really important message. part of my role in city government is to get people to believe in local government and what we can do and get them to understand where our tax dollars go. [applause] i think that is important education and awareness that needs to happen. people do not realize that their money goes to the very things that they care about. i often find that i have to articulate what that is and getting people to understand the importance of our budget as well and how that is actually what i think is the most important policy document that probably any government entity passes. the budget document -- it is all
numbers and line items, but it is essentially a list of priorities and it shows who we care about. is it seniors? seniors getting meals on the weekends? recreation centers being open later on mondays and wednesdays? more after-school programs, extending our school day by did we go hours? those sorts of things. i think getting people to articulate that is really important in coalition building. >> hello. i thought all three of your lessons corresponded with trends in buffalo. i guess the question is -- how does that translate into the electoral world for you? the you do anything when it came to building social relationships and then just any sort of especially effective community events that you use when you
were doing community organizing? >> when i was deciding whether to run for the board of supervisors, actually, i got my inspiration in terms of the campaign from a cookbook. for those of you from new york city, you know dave change, t -- chang, the star chef out of new york city. you wrote something that i thought was really interesting. before he opened his third restaurant, he went to paris or he went to france and eight at one of those three-star restaurants, and what he said about his experience there i found very interesting. he said what they cooked anyone could cut, but it is so hard to do. what he said was that they could very simple dishes, but everything was done inaccurately. the service, the way they pratt,
how they could it, but you know, it still just roast beef and potatoes, something that anyone can make. i found that really inspiring for a campaign. when people talk about electoral politics, especially now with the internet and all of that, people are looking for the new way of reaching voters. what i actually found is that not much has changed in terms of campaign. it is still old-fashioned meeting people. meeting people does so much more than sending out e-mail and doing trendy different last month, which i still think our effective. i do not think you should not do them, but if you want people to come out and vote, you have to go out and meet them. when i ran last year, i was not endorsed by anyone. i was not endorsed by the democratic party. i was not endorsed by labor. i was not endorsed by any news paper publication except for our chinese-language newspaper, and everyone told me i was going to lose. this was pretty early on. because i did not have the
formula. either i did not have the chamber support and all of that and i did not have labor and democratic party, so i was definitely going to lose. my opponents definitely got all of those endorsements, so we actually had no choice. we had to do campaigning the hard way. we had to go hit the streets. we door knocked almost every day. i was door knocking most days, film banking personally. we were always out on the street. i was trying to meet more voters than any of my opponents. and i think that was the formula that worked for us on election day. what we did anyone can do. anyone can go door knocking, but it is really hard to do it well. it is incredibly physical. there's a lot of people involved in it. i was really lucky. my background as an organizer certainly helped because all of my friends were organizers. we were very lucky to have most of the organizers in the south of market tenderloin working on our campaign, so we have that
level of expertise in terms of outreach in the community. >> i think most people see san francisco, obviously every city has its issues and challenges, but as a relatively successful and prosperous city existing i am probably the most dysfunctional state in the country, california. as a local official, i am curious -- do you feel san francisco is somewhat insulated from state problems, or are these issues that really impact the city every day? how do you think about that as a local official? >> the state definitely has an impact on the city of san francisco, but we are very fortunate, i think, in terms of different revenue bases that we
have the other counties do not have. also, several different policies that my predecessors have fought for prior to me. when i was on the school district, schools were getting close all around the state of california. we had two things in san francisco that help prevent a lot of that closures and layoffs. one was a public in richmond fund that several groups work done in 2004 where we dedicated a set aside a city funding to go to our public schools. we set aside money and we have to give it out every year to the school district. for me, it has been great. i am glad we have a set aside for our schools, and it has been able to help cover some of the impact that have happened on the state level. the sec and was something back -- actually, both measures were put out by at the time supervisor tom ammiano, which is
a rainy day fund. we had a time where san francisco was doing incredibly well. we had set aside a rainy day fund that has been used both by the city and county of san francisco and our school district. we have been able to weather the storm i think better than other counties and cities have. i do not know how much longer we will be able to continue doing that. at some point, that money is going to run out. >> any more questions? i want to again thank -- oh, sorry. >> hello. just curious, sort of, what is happening in san francisco with regards to policies to cope with the homeless and keep them safe. supervisor kim: that is a big question. homeless this continues to be one of the top issues at our
office is working on and it is the same for my predecessors as well. we have a large portion of our homeless community in district 6. the city actually does do a lot for homeless communities. yes or not saying it is a lot, but there are a number of things that exist here that i am not sure exist in all cities in terms of services and housing and shelter care. i think we are fortunate to have a strong group of organizers and advocates on homelessness issues. i actually get word for any community group when they do not have organizers or advocates that have been working on an issue for a long time. homelessness is an issue that i think there have been several for, so they develop a shelter monitoring committee several years ago to start monitoring our shelters in san francisco, and it is made up of folks that stay in our shelters, people who have families, women, in the
next day in and out of our shelters to help monitor those programs and then do quarterly reports back to the board of supervisors. i think things like this have made a difference. what can we continue to do? there are three main issues we need to continue to support more than we already have. one is of course housing. that is simply one of the bare bones issues. people do not have shelter, they will not be able to get out of the cycle of poverty they are currently in. second is continue to relief fund mental health services and other services that people need when they are coming out of whatever situation or stories that they are coming from. third is employment. i think that has actually been the most challenging issue for our office and for most elected officials is not only how you treat jobs -- create jobs but how you create jobs for divers constituents. i know our mayor talked earlier about keeping tech companies in
our city, companies like twitter and zynga and all of that, and i think that is really important. i think we have not been as good at figuring out how to keep a diversity of jobs and what i will talk about quickly is the loss of our manufacturing. as we lost manufacturing and light industrial spaces, warehouses, which ironically got converted to housing because of the need for housing in the city -- we actually did not realize that we lost a lot of our middle class jobs, our blue collar jobs where you could make 20- something dollars an hour and not have a college degree. i think that we need to -- i think land use plays a really important role in all of this. i think without realizing it and building of the house and with that we needed in the city we pushed out employment. i am not sure how aware folks were of that.
i continue to see land use as one of the most important things for activists and organizers to understand next to the budget, actually. how you plan and zoned areas is how you can help jobs come to those areas. i will say one last thing. you live in california, the most important thing we can do is overturned prop 13. i think we should be ok with losing because the one argument i always hear about why we do not go after it is because we are going to lose, that it is not possible, and we have to learn from how it got past, which is that it lost two or three times before it won. that was perserverance, right? the willingness to lose at the ballot but continue to educate more and more voters each round. i'm sorry. it was passed in 1978. it helps to a certain extent freeze homeowner property taxes
in the state of california. it was part of the taxpayer revolt that had come out of the 1970's. the individual but put it on the ballot actually put it on the ballot three or four times. i do not know of anyone members. three times. lost the first seed of we were times and kept going back to the voters to explain why he thought this was the best policy for the state of california. what we saw immediately after that was the schools lost 1/3 of their funding in the next couple of years. while i think it is important to protect particularly seniors who are homeowners, i think there's a way we can do that without impacting all homeowners spirit at the end of the day, what is happening is we are de- investing, divesting from our communities and parks, and i think that is a really important next campaign for the state of california.
>> thank you all for joining our wonderful san francisco symphony. and of course, what with the mayor do without issuing the official proclamation? on behalf of our great city, i would love to present in honor of not only the 100 years, but the grammys, oscars, the wonderful quality of work that the symphony has been involved in, to honor them on this day, to resign from our protocol officer the official proclamation presented to michael. declaring this to be san francisco symphony in day in san francisco. [applause] free parking is what he asked
for. of all things. and of course, with this opportunity that we could not pass up, where would a 100-share birthday bash the without the official birthday song? i'm going to ask liang-liang to get on the piano. and i'm going to have ask all of you to sing in your loudest voice. he would like to have his friends in china hear this. let's go with have a birthday, everybody.